Calls to Abolish Postal Voting

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Veterans’ group and Bersih 2.0 condemn Election Commission (EC) for adding new categories of postal voters, want domestic postal votes abolished.

  • Additional nine categories of civil servants may apply for postal voting
  • Allegation of postal voting lacking monitoring and transparency – ballot boxes vulnerable to tampering during storage and transportation
  • Chance of voters appearing twice as postal and advance voters

The categories of civil servants allowed for postal voting should be reduced and not increased says National Patriots Association president Datuk Mohamed Arshad Raji, although he is of the opinion that it should be abolished completely.

He suggested that a proper duty roster on the polling day would allow security forces personnel to cast their votes on the polling day.

Nazir Sufari/Malaysiakini

“Unlike our time when we were fighting our nation’s enemies, when the bulk of the troops were either in the jungle or on standby for emergency deployment, we are now in peacetime and troops are stationed in their respective bases,” said Mohamed Arshad in a statement.

The military and police personnel are the biggest majority of postal voters.

The army veteran said the postal voting should be strictly limited to those who are away on national duties and not able to return to base within a day, such as naval patrol and maritime.

“Similarly it could be done for the various civil departments and agencies like immigration, customs, fire and rescue, prison, hospital, and including those on duty during polling day.”

He said the group agreed with Bersih 2.0’s criticism of the Election Commission’s decision to open up postal voting for additional categories of civil servants as they said the system is open to abuse.

“The date for polling is not predetermined well in advance and that it would not be possible to know if the civil servant concerned is on duty on the actual polling day.

Saw Siow Feng

“Our southern neighbour has shown us that elections could be successfully conducted without postal voting. Surely we could do the same, otherwise even better,” he said.

Bersih 2.0 has demanded the outright abolishment of the postal voting, presenting six reasons behind their stance, one of it being the lack of monitoring and transparency which in turn allowed it to be abused and misused.

The group claimed there was a lack of clarity with the dubious eligibility of postal voters, and a shortage of security measures during storage and transportation of the ballot boxes, rendering it vulnerable to tampering.

It also pointed out the lack of access of polling and counting agents, the short notice given to candidates, and the absence of enforcement to ensure voters do not appear twice as postal and advance voters as among the issues.

“Bersih 2.0 propose that postal voting be abolished and replaced with advance voting, under the condition it is held a day before polling day and the votes are counted on site at the end of the day,” it said.

Lai Seng Sin/AP via Bersih.org

On Monday, the EC said it was ready to receive applications from civil servants who would like to vote through postal voting if their employers confirmed that they were needed to be on duty on polling day.

EC chairman Mohd Hashim Abdullah said besides EC staff, police and army personnel, nine other categories of civil servants may also apply to be postal voters.

The selected nine are the Prisons, Fire and Rescue, Maritime, Immigration, and National Registration Departments, health workers working in government institutions, the Royal Malaysian Police Volunteer Reserve, Malaysian Civil Defence Force, and those in the National Disaster Management Agency.

The electoral reforms coalition questioned the reasoning behind the nine categories of civil servants gazetted and allowed to vote as postal voters, where employees would first need their employers able to verify they would be on duty during polling day to qualify.

“There is no excuse for the EC to extend postal voting to such large and unjustifiable categories,” the group said in a statement.

It also expressed concern that applications for domestic postal voting have been opened without determining the date of the elections.

“How can the civil servants apply for postal voting without knowing for sure that they will be on duty on polling day?” it asked.

Farhan Najib Yusoff